Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What a client thinks

September 4th review on Angie's List on a newly constructed home: "Outstanding work. Very professional and pricing was great. Recommend Chris highly, as he takes the time to discuss his findings as he goes - allowing you to comprehend the issues at hand. This lets you decide ahead of time, if there are sever enough issues to cut your losses or if they can be easily resolved. Price below ($716) includes cost of Radon test (48 hour monitor) and home inspection > 3000 sq ft, along with orbiter free benefits post inspection."

Monday, August 21, 2017

Review from yet another satisfied client on the second home after the first failed to work out:

"I have had the pleasure of working with this fine gentleman who went above and beyond to inspect and assure that I was going to be a safe and happy homeowner. He is an expert in this field as evidenced by his detailed report. He explained findings as he moved from one room to another and allowed time for me to ask question right then."

"Needless to say, I'm very pleased, would definitely use him again, and too happy to recommend him to anyone. He has my stamp of approval!"

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What a client thinks

Young first time home buyer Google Review: "I give 5 (stars) due to Chris Hilton's knowledge finding detailed issues inside and outside the house. He explained in detail of what was happening and how to fix the issues. He has great morals, experience in building houses and knowledge of all codes. To ensure your house is safe you're getting inspected. Very kind and doesn't mind if you tag along with him so he can explain in detail. I highly recommend Chris Hilton over the other inspectors. He is who you want on your side.

Monday, July 31, 2017

What a client thinks

Client review on Google:

"Chris has been wonderful to work with! He inspected two different homes for us during our search for a new home and provided valuable feedback on both. He even went back a second tome to re-inspect something for us and gave a detailed explanation of the results so we could make a fully informed decision."

Monday, July 3, 2017

What clients think

Client's reviews left on Google:

"Chris was awesome! Super thorough and very detailed. Did a great job I was beyond satisfied and definitely felt I got more than my money's worth. Would absolutely recommend him to anyone looking to get a home inspection."

"I have had two homes inspected by Chris (we ended up backing out of the first one) and we loved him both times. He was extremely thorough and explained what he was doing and why. He told us what was good and what might be a concern now or even down the road. He was extremely friendly and professional! We highly recommend him."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

What a client thinks

A realtor shared this comment received from a client: "By the way, Chris Hilton that you guys recommended for the inspection is amazing. I was able to get an incredible insurance quote through a program he signed me up for as well as a great deal for home security."

As advertised our involvement does not stop at the end of your home inspection.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Weather and Radon Testing

I am often asked why I use the radon testing equipment I use when it is so much more expensive reducing the amount of income on every test compared to most of my competitors. There are many reasons but here is one you can see. The first chart is the effect of a major storm lasting days with heavy rain saturating the ground causing what we call a "lake effect". The second is a shorter duration storm. Interestingly, the second test was in a home with a new active radon mitigation system. Of further interest the first test was in a home which was tested years ago resulting in a low test. I consistently test in homes with past tests conducted using other testing equipment and find the former test to have been drastically inaccurate and the home to have high levels of radon present. With results like this a second test is required (at not cost) during acceptable weather conditions. 

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

When considering a radon test for your home ask the following questions:
  1. Does your testing system provide hourly radon level readings?
  2. Is your testing system tamper resistant and how is that accomplished?
  3. Does your testing system provide hourly readings of radon, barometric pressure, temperature and humidity? 
  4. Does your testing system provide a detailed report with charts providing a clear understand of the radon level in your home and issues which may be effecting it?
I am only aware of one testing system which meets these standards. Those are the reasons I only use this system. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Who should choose your home inspector?

Our world is filled with contradictions. Here is a good one for you to figure out:

  • The best recommendation for a home inspector is from your Realtor.
  • The worst recommendation for a home inspection is from your Realtor.

Who should know more about home inspectors than anyone else? Realtors because they work with them on an ongoing basis. Therein lies the problem. They know about home inspectors therefore they have the ability and knowledge to steer you toward the home inspector of their choosing. Is that what you should desire? 

Realtors detest the use of the word steering. They will claim that they do not steer their clients. You can take it from someone who has been involved, in one way or another, with Realtors his entire life and is becoming old and gray headed at sixty six years old sleeping with one every night. All Realtors steer their clients. They may be blunt and simply clearly state the home inspector they recommend that you use and offer to book for you now. They may give you a list of three or five and still recommend one over the other. They may give you a short list and tell you that it is up to you to choose. What Realtors will seldom do is advise you that information about home inspectors is available on the internet and you should go figure it out for yourself.

Wow, now what the heck am I supposed to do?

It begins with knowing, understanding and attempting to discern the intent of your Realtor. How do you do that? It is really not that difficult. There are Realtors who are all about selling homes and there are Realtors who are all about protecting and providing everything in the best interest of their clients. You have spent time with this person and should clearly be able to discern the difference. If your Realtor is what I call a "happy home" Realtor then you better be careful. Where did I come up with that term? I am explaining to a buyer how the basement has been improved to hide the fact that water has been flowing in from the rear yard during major storms and flooding this basement as the Realtor keeps going on and on about what a "happy home" this is. As you have been visiting homes with your Realtor do they only point on the best features of the home or do they also point out the negatives? How many times have they said "It looks like there is a water problem with this home." "This heating and/or cooling system look really old." "This roof looks worn out." If your Realtor has pointed out those negative types of features then they may not be a "Happy Home" Realtor and you may be comfortable trusting their recommendations for home inspectors. If not you may not want to consider anyone they recommend.

Yesterday as I was considering writing this post I receive the following email from from my website:
"I'd like to know all about what you offer as a home inspector if possible. I have another company my Realtor lined up for me and a contract waiting to be signed but I really like what I see and read on your website. Please let me know at your earliest convenience." 
The only person who should make the final choice on who conducts your home inspecton should be you.

Even if you are convinced, without a doubt, that your Realtor has your best interest at heart don't blindly accept their recommendation. Even if your Realtor recommends me and suggests that they will book the inspection for you. Stop and check out the inspector they are recommending. What are you looking for first? Experience, Experience and Eperience. What is their background? How long have they been inspecting homes? As you check out home inspectors online there is one very obvious thing you should take notice of.  What do they tell you about themselves? Does their website include a detailed resume? Could there be a reason they don't talk about themselves? Experienced, reputable home inspectors know that you want to know about them and they will clearly tell you. Can't learn about their background and experience? Look for someone else.

There are some home inspectors who are so confident that you will be pleased with their work that they will offer your money back if you aren't pleased. Their are some so confident that they will not only return your money but if you attend the home inspection, read the report are not pleased they will not only return your money but will pay up to an equal amount for a second home inspector of you choosing to inspect the home again. Look for that. It speaks volumes!

Begin the process of finding your home inspector here:
Not bashful about my resume: Click Here
Not bashful about how I conduct inspections: Click Here

Don't stop there! Check out other home inspectors by googling "home inspector (my location)"
End up back here? Price, find available times and (if you are convinced) book your home inspection: Click Here

My goal, and the goal of your Realtor, should be for you to book the very best home inspector available in your market. Determine that I am not it. No problem book with the other guy.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Further Evaluation Immediately

Further Evaluation Immediately: When viewed in a home inspection report should set off red flags in your mind that there is a potential for disastrous findings following a home inspection. You should never take that comment lightly. Allow me to share a recent event which may put this in proper light.

On inspecting a home I discovered a very small area, a tiny little line of termite damage on the top of a wood cap of a short wall between a foyer and a living room. It was almost unnoticeable. Being honest I almost completely missed it. It honestly appeared to simply be a deformity in the wood or it could have been in the wood prior to its installation. On looking closer it appeared to be from termites. No other evidence of termite damage was observed by me or the pest control inspector. The pest control inspector did not find evidence of live termites. Apparently (have not confirmed this) a contractor wrote a letter of some sort stating that there were no structural issues with the home to appease the lender. If I recall correctly (I could have this confused with another home) I refused to write that letter until there was further evaluation.

The home closed and the buyer shortly decided to remove this short wall and install a tile floor in the foyer. On demolition, major termite damage was discovered in the floor system below the foyer. A second pest inspector apparently also discovered live termites.

What then should “Further Evaluation Immediately” indicate for a potential home buyer and their agent? There may be an issue hidden from view or which may be beyond the expertise of the home inspector to explain or clarify. The recommendation is that someone experienced come and look in more detail. This may involve disassemble to get a better view or conduct testing. In this scenario of potential termite damage finished surfaces and insulation may need to be removed to determine the extent of possible damage. Termites come from the ground if evidence is discovered three foot above the first floor of the home how did they get there and what damage may they have done on the way. Had the buyer followed through more aggressively on the recommendation the cost of the repair would have been in the lap of the seller or the buyer could have walked away. Now she is very likely stuck with the repair cost.

Interestingly the pest control company brought in by the buyer, who discovered the live termites, was in this home two years previously and was the one who originally discovered live termites and potential for damage. This indicates that the seller was aware and failed to disclose. To add to that the seller during the process of due diligence filled and painted over the tiny evidence I discovered. Is there evidence that the seller attempted to hid and cover up this issue? It is very likely that may be true. Problem is it could well cost more in legal fees to prove that and win court than the cost of the repair. It’s a catch 22 and the buyer is the looser simply because the drastic importance of a simple phrase “Further Evaluation Immediately” was not taken seriously enough. This phrase indicates that the inspector was alarmed and you should be as well and should not let up until clear determination and repairs are undertaken. The responsibility of inspecting a home and discovering the issues falls on the home inspector. The responsibility of properly addressing issues falls on the buyer. It doesn’t help it I do my job and you fail to do yours.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

What a client thinks

When you can please a New Yorker you can please anybody! Check this out:

"Chris Hilton put our minds at ease during the beginning of the home inspection. He informed me to stick close and ask any questions I had about what he was looking at. He is extremely thorough, from the most minor thing you or I would never think about, to a hazard that needs attention, he left nothing out. I would not hesitate to hire him again."

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

What a Realtor thinks

Absolutely 100% satisfied and have been using him ever since I found him! I have had many clients impressed with his services as well. He found a dishwasher that had been recalled and was a potential fire hazard in a buyers home and was able to point the in the direction of getting a new one.

Monday, March 6, 2017

My grandson and his bugulers

My 8 year old grandson is afraid of "bugulers". No, I didn't spell it wrong, that is how he says burglars. He is afraid to go in other rooms in his own home with people present. I think it is all about attention but that has nothing to do with this post. 

Interestingly, the Today Show, this morning, interviewed a "buguler" from prison. I guess that he wasn't a very good "buguler". From watching that interview and relating it to my own experience, inspecting thousands of homes, allow me to provide you some pertinent information on keeping you home safe from "bugulers". 

It does not happen at night: Most children (like my grandson) are concerned about "bugulers" at night. Interestingly, most burglaries of homes happen during the day not at night. Why? No one is present in the home or in most of the neighborhood. When I inspect homes most neighborhoods are like ghost towns. The more expensive the homes the less folk are around. I could load a truck and no one would notice. The safest neighborhoods, from this perspective, are the low income neighborhoods where folk are everywhere because they aren't working. Understand that I am a HUD REAC inspector and have inspected thousands of rental assisted housing units. Don't consider this derogatory, it is a simple fact. You will see why I bring this up later. Also, everyone is in everyone else's business looking out their windows or sitting on their porch. There is also less to steal.

They do not break in: We think that "bugulers" access homes by breaking in. This is not the case. They usually simply walk in through unlocked doors or windows. If yours aren't unlocked they simply move to the next home which is. I can attest to that. A huge percentage of homes I inspect have unlocked doors somewhere. An even larger number, in fact close to 100%, have one or many more unlocked windows. I lock every window and door as I operate them and move through the house. When I leave the home is secured. 

They are reading the signs of vacancy: No cars present, lights off, papers in the yard, mail in the mailbox, packages on the porch, no noise, closed windows and doors. If they think the home is occupied they move to one which doesn't appear occupied. 

Alarm systems and cameras are not deterrents they are invitations: An alarm system or camera says that you have something worth stealing. They do not stop anyone from stealing it. A "buguler" is only in your home for a few minutes. It could be as much as 20 minutes or longer (I speak from personal experience) before police will arrive after the alarm sounds. The "buguler" will be long gone. If a "buguler" wears a mask or evades the few cameras you may have what do they accomplish? 

Most dogs don't work: I go in homes often with dogs present. Over two decades of entering homes with dogs present I have only experienced one dog which was a problem and that dog had blatant emotional problems. I simply kept something between me and the dog and preceded with my inspection. All I do is act like I belong and not act like I fear the dog. They will be waging their tails, licking my hand following me around the home. Works every time. 

A keyed lock on the inside of glass doors does not work: You can't even imagine how many double keyed dead bolt locks I encounter and write up as a hazard. Can't find the key in a fire and you and your family may not survive. Your home is only as secure as the nearest rock and your windows and many doors are large enough to walk through without a key when broken out. 

After shaking up your thoughts of security in your home what does work.

Make your home appear occupied: Leave some lights and the TV on, get the paper, mail and packages up quick.  

Lock all windows and doors: Most "bugulers" don't want to break out glass because it's noisy, requires too much effort and they may be injured. Most of the time they will simply move to the next home which is unlocked. Most "bugulers" are all about simplicity and have no interest in anything which is difficult or requires time. 

Neighborhood Watch Works: Make friends, especially ones which are home during the day. Ask them to keep an eye on your home and walk out and say something, call the police and you if anything does not appear right. Chances are they will be watching anyway, encourage them to take action. Hence my comment above about low income neighborhoods. 

Never allow a Realtor to put a combination key box on your home: Most folk, who deal with these boxes, can get into the box without knowing the code. I do it often. Realtors use codes which are simple for them to recall like down the side, four corners or that relate to them. Their year of birth, their initials. You would be shocked how many of these key boxes are still set to the manufactures setting. It goes on and on and someone familiar and smart can guess it. Demand an electronic key box or find another Realtor who will provide one. These boxes are only accessible by approved folk and it records their entry. They are built like Fort Knox and you better have a very big sledge hammer to get in one. It's going to be noisy and take time. 

Being safe in your home isn't difficult or expensive it is all about being careful.